Sep 09, 2021
The Spoons Theory
A discussion of the spoons theory.
Sheryl Lawrence
2 min. read

Every day people wake up with a certain amount of spoons and throughout the day certain tasks use a different amount of spoons for certain people. Let’s say person A wakes up with 10 spoons, but person B only wakes up with 5 spoons. However, it takes person B 1 spoon to do the same task as person A, but it only takes person A a quarter of a spoon. With this in mind, how are we expecting people to do the same amount of work under different conditions? These conditions can include family status, health status (both physical and mental), income, etc. Even then, the person with 10 spoons can do more, but at some point, they are going to run out of spoons for the day and eventually permanently: burn out. 

How does someone get more spoons? How do we manage the spoons we receive at the beginning of each day? Take it one step at a time. While comparing ourselves to others is going to happen, it is human nature, we can counteract the way it makes us feel by recognizing that our perception of people is not reality. We might think someone has every duck in a row, but that might not be the case in reality. Comparing ourselves is a way to lose spoons faster.

Other ways for managing our spoons or gaining more can look different for different people. Typical methods are eating enough food, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. This can mean going to therapy, taking medicine, and getting enough rest for those with chronic illness. Oftentimes people with chronic illnesses feel guilty for having non-traditional methods of gaining more spoons or taking more time to gain more spoons, so I think this theory is a great way of representing the challenges people with chronic illnesses can face.

I use this method with close family members and friends to express that I am out of energy for the day or when I do not feel like I woke up with any spoons. It feels easier to tell them that than to explain anything I might be feeling at that moment, but it also lets them know that I might not be as talkative or as upbeat as I usually might be.

Remember to take care of yourself!